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Weekend Audio: On Wasting Time and Email

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I mentioned to a friend recently that blogging is harder than I thought it would be because I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. Somehow, seeing the thoughts of other people expressed in writing, whether it’s reading books, magazines, articles on the Internet or other people’s blog posts, helps get your own thoughts churning. He asked me what I did all day if I wasn’t reading and, since I discovered I didn’t know how to answer the question, I took a few days to really pay attention to how I worked and what I actually did all day. I’ll get back to the results of this exercise in a minute.

One of my favorite books in the PMAP checkout library is Stress Management for Lawyers by Ami Elwork, Ph.D., who has spoken several times at practice management CLE programs for our bar, including once at the Annual Meeting. It has a great chapter on discovering where all your time goes everyday, which can help you stop wasting valuable billable hours and leave the office each day with the feeling that you’ve accomplished what you really needed to.

He recommends that you spend a week noting every thing you do from the time you arrive at the office until you leave each day. He even has a special time sheet for doing it. If you hate time sheets as much as I did when I was in private practice this sounds like a fate worse that death, but honestly keeping up with everything you do, not just the billable stuff, for an entire week will really show you when, where and how you waste time each day. It will even help you determine why you waste time, but that’s another thought for a later post. (If you’d like to check this book out, send an email to Kristi Skipper.)

So what did I find out? I discovered that I spend too much time on meaningless email because it feels like work without having to make any hard decisions; that I like talking to people and am always happy to be interrupted, no matter what I’m doing; and that while I’m working (or not) I spend a lot of time each day listening to the radio, including Internet radio and podcasts. Which brings us to the title of this post – Weekend Audio. Because I spend a fair amount of my time learning by listening, rather than reading, I’d like to share with you what I think are some of the best audio programs I heard last week.

National Public Radio has been running a series on The Email Age. Each of the segments was great, but I think the one on Friday entitled An Email Vacation: Taking Fridays Off was especially good. Others that are worth a listen are Email: To Encrypt or Not to Encrypt, and Email, the Workplace and the Electronic Paper Trail. If you’re super-teckie, these stories may be a bit simplified for you, but if you’re just beginning to get into e-discovery, they provide some good solid information about how business email systems work.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!